After four months of struggling for a fair contract, grocery workers at Ralphs, Albertsons, and Vons marched in a public event that marked their preparation to strike. Two days later, UFCW Local 770 reported that a tentative agreement had been reached for 50,000 grocery workers in Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego, and beyond
At the end of March, over 50,000 grocery workers giving their time to Ralphs, Albertsons and Vons looked ahead toward new contract negotiations as their current contract expired. It has been over four months since then, and companies have yet to propose anything that resembles a fair and just contract. Currently one of the biggest issues revolves around the unwillingness to fund healthcare beyond the current levels, which would have a direct impact on workers contributions to their pensions. The companies current contract proposals are also pushing the age or retirement, forcing workers to be prepared to work well into their sixties.
On Tuesday August 2nd, the workers made a statement as they gathered together to march through the city from Lafayette Park to the Ralphs and Vons stores on the corners of 3rd and Vermont. Hundreds of community members and dozens of organizations came out to march in solidarity with these workers in the fight to #MakeEndsMeet. Along with CLUE, some of the organizations included, Coalition for Economic Survival, Unite Here, American Federation of Music, Communication Workers of America, Coalition for Human Immigrant Rights, Sierra Club, Community Coalition, Students for Quality Education, SEIU, LA Federation of Labor, United Teachers of LA, Teamsters, Warehouse Workers United, Tri-county Central Labor Council, and over a dozen more. The march was a bold action demonstrating the solidarity between the community and their grocery workers and let the companies know that we will not stand by as injustice takes advantage of our brothers and sisters.
UPDATE: Just two days after this rally, UFCW-770 released the following statement on their Facebook page: "Breaking News!! We have reached a tentative agreement on a new contract with Albertsons, Ralphs, and Vons, pending our members ratification vote on Monday on August 8. We want to thank all of our community partners who came forward day in and day out to support the workers. This deal could not have happened without the strength and solidarity of our dedicated members." The statement reminds us that this victory came not just from the action, but from the months-long struggle taken up by both the workers and hundreds of faithful allies.
Jordan Esqueda is a 2016 Ziegler Young Religious Fellow at CLUE. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.